A stronger economy generates inflation. The more people there are buying goods, the higher the demand on goods. Companies meet that increasing demand for increasing the supply of goods. People must be defended from the threats imposed by known cancer-causing toxins like benzene, VOCs that increase ozone levels, and methane that is over 80 times more potent greenhouse gas than CO2 in the first twenty years – increasing temperature, which then increases ozone levels another step further.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, most businesses reduced their services and orders for goods—on, say, semiconductor chips used for cars or waiting staff for their restaurants—and that led to some supply shortfalls that still linger today. As the United States—and the world—reopens and people begin to spend money again, the demand for goods in the United States is skyrocketing, with inflation-adjusted retail spending up 14 percent in the last two years. With the improvement in the roll-out of vaccines, the US economy is starting to grow very quickly. In the second quarter of 2021, real GDP increased 6.7 percent, and it’s not just the USA that is waking up from the COVID economic slumber, the whole world is. And that affects supply chains across the globe. As more Americans are starting to purchase new goods and services, it takes a while for the global supply chain to catch up. In the meantime, prices rise because there isn’t enough supply to match demand.
Currently, 2.9 million American children attend school within a radius of 0.5 miles of oil and gas facilities. Within my home state of Pennsylvania, at least 310,896 kids face this hazard. This makes addressing fugitive and leaking methane from both existing and leaking oil and gas facilities a moral responsibility. Studies have shown that smog, VOCs, and air toxics have a disproportionate impact on life in the womb. Research by Dr. Shaina L. Stacy and others at the University of Pittsburgh found that close proximity to unconventional gas wells in Butler County, PA is associated with babies born with a lower birthweight. Dr. Lisa M. McKenzie, with the Colorado School of Public Health, published peer-reviewed research that links birth defects to methane production. Research by Casey J.A. further describes that living within a half-mile radius of natural gas development leads to increased brain, spine, or spinal cord birth defects.
In the US, oil and gas production are the largest industrial sources of methane pollution. Each year, the oil and gas industry releases 16 million metric tons of methane, and without immediate action, methane pollution from the industry will continue to skyrocket. We urge the EPA to promulgate these standards in the most expeditious fashion to defend our children and their future.
Improving the Supply Chain One thing that will help is improving the supply chain, so that goods can reach the US faster. On October 13th, the administration worked with some of the biggest ports in the United States to improve the speed at which they can process shipping containers. They announced expanded operations at the Port of Los Angeles and supported running the ports 24 hours a day to help relieve backlogs of goods. Improving the supply chain will help bring in more goods and lower prices.
Another solution is to help release oil reserves to decrease gas prices. The whole world is short on energy, and bad actors like Putin know it. Over the last few months, Putin has been accused of withholding gas in order to drive up prices and hurt the US economy. However, on November 23, the government decided to release 50 barrels of crude oil reserves to decrease the price of gas. Gas price decreases have a rippling effect on the prices of most goods. Cheaper transportation results in cheaper goods. By releasing oil reserves, the administration hopes to not only decrease gas prices but also help reel in inflation and lower the prices of other goods. A ban on routine flaring except in emergency situations. Quarterly inspection via LDAR (Leak Detection and Repair) procedures of all wells with two tons per year (tpy) of methane emissions or greater. (This recommendation is based on the EPA’s own conclusion in the proposed rule, which states:”… sites with total baseline methane emissions of two tpy, we conclude that regular monitoring at semiannual or quarterly frequencies would be cost-effective.”) Based on this conclusion that quarterly inspection of well sites with two tpy emissions is cost-effective, we recommend that the 3-tpy-emissions threshold in the currently proposed standard be reduced to two tpy emissions and that the frequency of inspections be increased to quarterly. Sites below two tpy emissions need to be inspected at least annually, require a time limit on the need to replace all pneumatic values and actuators, and develop a process for the incorporation of monitoring data from third-parties. The expanded monitoring may result in a major public health benefit.